1 Peter 1:8: “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him, and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.”
Let me ask you something….
Between you and me, wouldn’t you like to experience joy in your everyday life?
When was the last time you did?
Have you ever felt the uplift of its presence?
If you’ve ever known joy, I’m sure you remember it well, because joy, my friends, is nothing less than the bright smile of God in human life, and a preview of that eternal condition we as Christians will one day inhabit. It is the euphoria of unblemished affection. It is God’s hand laid on our trembling shoulder, a window into an endless tomorrow, proof of the all-encompassing love that conquers dread. Joy is the mortar of the towers of Heaven, the chords in the angels’ songs, it is the golden glow of a dawn which, for those who know Christ, will never conclude. And as such joy is the right of every Christian to experience, not only in the hereafter, but every single day of our lives.
Perhaps, you ask, how can joy possibly be discussed in the context of this painful world? How can it coincide with the Orlando massacre this week, with Charleston last year, or with the tragedies which confront us every time we flip on our television for the evening news? With so much evil around us, is joy something a rational person should even realistically aspire to encounter?
Fair sentiments, but a great Christian once noted that painful as this earthly existence is, it is still the only Heaven a nonbeliever will ever know, just as for a Christian it is the only Hell that shall be experienced.
How can we know this to be so? Because we have Jesus’ word that for Christians a better life is coming, a life wherein every sorrow shall dwindle to non-remembrance, and so if we accept that our Lord was speaking truthfully to us, then a Christian can confidently consider these sacred promises and draw comfort from them, seeing the travails of this world as but the merest shadow of a passing cloud against the sunshiny fullness of eternity.
A generation ago Pope John Paul II laid down an inspiring two-word challenge to Christians of all creeds: “Fear not.” From Billy Graham, to the Archbishop of Canterbury, to the pulpits of churches worldwide, soon this unadorned truth was echoed time and again.
So simple this manifesto, and yet so brimming with truth. Fear not, friends, for what grief is there in this life that will not one day be overcome by the fulfillment of God’s promise of eternal happiness? And knowing this, how can we fail to feel joy, even in the midst of temporal darkness?
For there is no denying that in this existence there is pain. Who among us could ever say this life is anything but agonizingly difficult, since Jesus cautioned us it would be so? At no time in perhaps the last thousand years has our allegiance to Christ been so under assault, not only in our increasingly disapproving society here at home, but in Mid-Eastern killing fields, where those who commit to walk the path of Jesus often face a martyrdom every bit as brutal as that of those who gave up their lives under Nero some nineteen and a half centuries ago.
But even in the most grim of times it does not do for we Christians to lose touch with our divine joy, or forget that it too visits human life, an emissary to remind us of what lies ahead in Heaven.
Yes, joy! That blissful condition of radiant happiness, a state that transcends the mere everyday pleasures as day transcends night.
Joy! That sample of our Heavenly tomorrow, God’s generous gift that wordlessly speaks of what awaits those who accept Christ’s invitation to begin again as a person anew.
Because this is exactly the prize Jesus came to earth to lay before us, the chance to have perfect and complete forgiveness for our wrongdoings, a forgiveness that leads to peace, and with it the certainty of life unending in the company of our divine Creator, in a place that can only be termed our true home.
Is this a peace you already know for yourself? Is it a peace you would like to possess?
Then know that to a Christian joy is as much a God-granted right as hope, as comfort, or as love. Seek joy in good times and in bad, and when you feel it, let it sustain you like a candle in darkness, a shelter in a storm. Speak often of joy, and help others to uncover it, for little else transforms the spirit quite so fully as those shimmering sparks of purest light bestowed upon us when day-to-day challenges seem overwhelming.
And best of all, this gift from Heaven is absolutely free, if we but accept it for our own.
Hebrews 7:25: “Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He lives always to intercede through Him.”
So let me again ask that question I posed a moment ago: wouldn’t you like to experience joy in your life?